A celebration of trees: a GVAT Earth Week event

Tuesday, April 20, 2021 from 7 to 8:30 pm—The Poetry and Song circle at the Church of Truth invites you to an evening of poems, songs, readings, photographs, paintings, and other artwork celebrating the major role that trees play in our lives. This event is part of the Greater Victoria Acting Together (GVAT) Tuesday for Trees campaign, to raise public awareness and pressure decision-makers regarding the importance of trees and forests in protecting us from climate change, and keeping BC beautiful and healthy. This Tuesday for Trees is an Earth Week event. As Congregation Emanu-El is a GVAT member, our congregants are welcome/encouraged to attend this event.

The program will include an update on the Tuesday for Trees campaign by a member of GVAT’s Climate Justice Action Research team (ART). There will be opportunities during the evening for audience members to dialogue with the presenters, and each other.

The evening will be on Zoom, and will run from 7 to 8.30 pm on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. To get further information, and/or to register for the event and eventually receive the Zoom link, please contact  chrisbullock@shaw.ca.

Tu Bishvat at House of Commons

Everyday when the House of Commons is sitting, there is 15-minute period when any member who is not a minister is permitted to address the House for up to one minute on virtually any matter of local, provincial, national or international concern. On January 28, 2021, Victoria MP Laurel Collins delivered a statement marking the occurrence of Tu Bishvat. To view her presentation… 

The trees are dancing—why shouldn’t we?

On Sunday January 24, 2021, Emanu-El members and friends explored our relationship to nature through a variety of media: food and drink, music, and a presentation. Rabbi Harry conducted a lively Tu Bishvat seder and explained the symbolism behind the traditional foods we eat. It was a rich sensory experience, replete with savouring the look, smell and taste of fresh fruits, nuts and wine. Elisheva Gray facilitated a sharing of the Kudoboard photos and write-ups of people’s experiences in the great outdoors. Rabbi Matt brought a joyous musical flair to our festival. “The trees are dancing, why shouldn’t we?” he joked. Numerous Hebrew School students attended for a portion of the program, lending a multigenerational feel to the workshop.

Lastly, we welcomed our guest speaker, Jane Welton, a volunteer with the “Climate Justice” Action Research Team (ART) of Greater Victoria Acting Together (GVAT). She delivered a powerful talk about the importance of trees in the climate emergency, and the need for urgent action to protect these valuable resources. Sadly, our old-growth forests in BC continue to be logged at an alarming pace…CLICK HERE for the text of Jane’s presentation.

Want to go beyond talking about social justice?

Tuesday, November 17, 2020 from 7 – 8:30 pm on ZoomGreater Victoria Acting Together (GVAT) Core Teams Workshop on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 from 7 – 8:30 pm on Zoom provides its member organizations with an opportunity to learn how to build support for GVAT purposes and activities from its members and to help them make the world a better place.

Congregation Emanu-El is a founding GVAT member. This workshop is an opportunity for Congregation Emanu-El members to explore whether participating in GVAT projects offers them a suitable opportunity to pursue social justice.

If you wonder about GVAT and whether it is a right fit for you, please see the GVAT orientation document…
If you wonder about GVAT Core Teams see here…

For information about the workshop and how to register, head over to gvat.ca/get-involved or to register directly head here. I

What if we took better care of each other?

Congregation Emanu-El (CEE) members were graced with an enthusiastic Greater Victoria Acting Together (GVAT) panel that included Rabbi Harry, CEE congregants Robert Oppenheimer and Ruth Shreier (shown above) and GVAT Lead Organizer Chet Phillips. The panelists briefed us on GVAT’s past and present; they invited us to consider what a world where we took better care of each other might look like. They were passionate; they promised to provide us with ways to individually and collectively explore how Congregation Emanu-El might connect with their vision and help make things happen. They made it clear that they had given up “begging bowls” and planned to be more than “latté liberals”. Their policy development is oriented toward action. GVAT wants to collaborate more actively with Emanu-El and will take steps to make this happen. Our President, Sam Godfrey and many of our Board members attended this inspiring panel. Stay tuned! (For a few more pictures…)

GVAT Forum – WHY we should engage…

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 at  7:00 pm on Zoom—Rabbi Harry invites you to participate in a special zoom GVAT (Greater Victoria Acting Together) forum for Emanu-El Congregants. The goal of this forum is to acquaint congregants with GVAT’s purposes and activities and to inform them about the opportunities that GVAT provides Emanu-El for tikkun olam. The speakers at this forum will include Chet Phillips, GVAT Lead Organizer and the Congregation Emanu-El members who participate in GVAT Action Research Teams. Find the ways to join Rabbi Harry below:

Join online: CLICK HERE…

Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071 Meeting ID: 890 6466 8356 Password: 649002

The purpose of this Forum is to highlight the importance of GVAT’s work, particularly given the damaged and fragmented state of our world today and our own forthcoming election. It will highlight the necessity of ensuring an active and committed Jewish voice in GVAT’s processes and procedures. We were once a lead voice in Faith in Action, with your help we can take up a similar role in GVAT. We owe it to our tradition, to our community, to ourselves and our kids, not to mention grandkids – they deserve a future, whatever that future may look like, where safety and security continues to be a given.

Our tradition tells us we do not need to complete the task of repairing the world, tikkun olam, but we are obligated to contribute to its repair. That has always been CE-E’s tradition. Indeed our very own Bernice z”l, a campaigner for justice like no other, has that call inscribed on her headstone “Justice, justice, shalt thou pursue”.

Our world is on fire, recently in the very real sense of the Americas, from the wetlands of the Pantanal and the Amazon rainforest all the way up to the State of Washington. On fire also, in the more metaphorical sense, from the ubiquitous injustice and inequality we see around us, to the South of us and across all the world’s continents, from homelessness to systemic racism, from mental health to the migration of peoples, brought on by war, conflict and climate change.

What I am saying will resonate with those of you who, like me, were privileged to hear Rabbi Harry’s drash on Yom KippurHineni! Let us make a Rosh Hashanah 5781 pledge to join in the October Forum on GVAT where we will discover how a good Jewish boy, (a lawyer called Saul Alinsky) in the Chicago of the 30s, was able to vastly improve the lives of so many and to found an international organization dedicated to the pursuit of justice, through his actions, his philosophy and his writings. That organization is still active today and GVAT is a part of it.

Remember, we’re “The Little Shul That Could”. As members of Emanu-El, you are already members of GVAT; let’s join together to ensure an active and engaged Jewish voice in formulating and pursuing GVAT’s goals. Join the Forum and check out GVAT’s web site to find out more.

If you’re interested, please contact Ruthi W., either directly or through the office.

GVAT on prevention of youth homelessness

GVAT revisedGVAT (Greater Victoria Acting Together) is an alliance of unions, congregations, environmental, education, local business, and frontline service organizations, working together for the common good in Greater Victoria and British Columbia. Congregation Emanu-El is a GVAT founding member. We have congregants who participate in Action Research Teams that are currently working on three issues: 1. Housing for all, 2. Mental Health and Addictions care, and 3. Climate Action.
Greatly concerned about youth homelessness during these COVID-19 times, GVAT wrote to the provincial government ministers in charge of this issue on July 24, 2020. Here is a link to this letter…

Concerned about racism, climate change, public health, affordable housing…?

GVAT revised
If you are concerned about racism, climate change, public health, worker’s rights, affordable housing, colonialism, mental health, a just recovery…—here’s help getting organized! Greater Victoria Acting Together (GVAT) is offering leadership training in a series of sessions on June 30, July 2, 7, 9, and 14 from 10 am – 12 pm.

What will you learn?

Continue reading Concerned about racism, climate change, public health, affordable housing…?

POSTPONED – Not Hiring a Hitman: How Our Stories Can Save Democracy

GVATPOSTPONED Saturday, March 14, 2020, Congregation Emanu-El—The presentation by Chet Philipps, the Lead Organizer for Greater Victoria Acting Together (GVAT) about GVAT’s purpose scheduled for this Saturday is postponed. His talk is entitled “Not Hiring a Hitman: How Our Stories Can Save Democracy”. This is an opportunity for the congregation to better understand why our leadership has chosen to support GVAT and why congregant involvement in GVAT is important.

About the talk

We live in a time when political polarization and personal isolation are increasing, and democracy itself is imperiled around the world. It can be tempting to retreat into our most intimate circles of loved ones, those with whom we most agree, even as these circles get smaller and the lines around them turn into walls. Yet revitalizing our communities, our democracy, cannot be done at a distance. Nor can it be done through debating “the facts.” Sharing our stories means being vulnerable enough to share both our own personal pain and concern and to seek out how our stories connect with those of others, even the stories that seem to challenge our own. Pluralistic democracy depends on respect for our differences, yes, but also on our working constantly to invite others to join in the telling of a common story.

About Chet Phillips

Chet Phillips arrived here after 22 years in southern Arizona, where his work ranged over fields as varied as sustainable agriculture, creative writing, collaborative land management and conservation planning, and the social science of conflict resolution. For the 8 years prior to his moving to Victoria with his partner and their 3 young children, his work focused on organizing and empowering student leaders to create positive institutional change on the University of Arizona campus and in Tucson. Chet joined GVAT this past July as our full-time lead organizer. In all his work, he is guided by a saying from one of his mentors: “An individual can resist injustice, but it takes a community to do justice.”

 

GVAT’s Discernment Day

Work continues

On November 18, 2018 — Ten synagogue members attended GVAT’s Discernment Day. Rabbi Harry gave a rousing opening address. Approximately 100 people from more than 20 organizations worked to achieve consensus on which topics GVAT should focus. The participants selected Mental Health & Addictions and Housing. The Emanu-El GVAT team will fill us in on the decisions made at the meeting in the Koleinu Ḥanukkah edition. For more photos of our team at work (taken by our fabulous photographer, Penny Tennenhouse).